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FIAT 500L Performance

The 2015 Fiat 500L has a composed ride, but it isn't very nimble, auto writers say. Some add that the engine is underpowered at highway speeds, and that the automated manual transmission shifts slowly.

  • "The Fiat 500L uses the same turbocharged engine as the 500 Abarth, but the 500L doesn't share the performance traits of its feisty little sibling. Blame it on physics and tuning. The 500L is bigger, heavier and made more for touring than sharp cornering." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "There's little about driving the 2015 Fiat 500L that transfers from the diminutive two-door Fiat 500. Although it's still considered a small wagon, the 500L feels several times larger than the 500 hatchback and larger than its peers. As such, the 500L's ride and handling traits are softer and less nimble than those of the regular 500." -- Edmunds
  • "The 2014 500L borrows the engine and some suspension bits from the 500 Abarth, though in the 500L, the aim is less performance than comfort and capability." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "Granted, once the road turns sporting and you want to push the 500L the way you might do your Abarth, you soon see that the 500L setup - as it shares its architecture with the Euro-only Fiat Panda micro crossover - is meant more for country cruising versus carving curves and lap times." -- Autoblog (2014)

Acceleration and Power

The 2015 Fiat 500L comes with a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 160 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission is standard in the Pop, Easy and Trekking trims. A six-speed dual-clutch automated manual is available in the Pop trim, while a new six-speed conventional automatic transmission is available in the Easy and Trekking trims and standard in the Lounge trim. According to the EPA, the 2015 500L gets 24/33 mpg city/highway with the automated manual transmission, which is typical for the class. Fuel economy drops slightly to 22/30 mpg in models with the conventional automatic.

Some test drivers write that the Fiat 500L has adequate acceleration, but others think it's too slow at highway speeds. They note that the manual transmission operates smoothly, and they say the new automatic is responsive, but they think that the base trim's dual-clutch automated manual shifts too slowly.

  • "Even with just a couple of people aboard, accelerating up to highway speeds requires some patience. Also disappointing is the automated-manual transmission. It can be slow to respond when you're pulling away from traffic lights or trying to creep at parking lot speeds." -- Edmunds
  • "The Fiat's 6-speed manual transmission is smooth and easy to use. We didn't find the Euro Twin Clutch automatic intrusive, but there's no denying that we prefer the shift response of the new automatic available on all but base-model 500Ls." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The acceleration feels lively at city speeds but trails off after that." -- Car and Driver (2014)
  • "There's plenty of power to make the Fiat a competent, capable everyday subcompact family car." -- Popular Mechanics (2014)
  • "Like in the Dodge Dart and Fiat 500 Abarth that share the engine, power comes in peaky, high-rev bursts, but I found enough oomph to muscle past slower highway traffic even with three adults aboard and the air conditioning blasting to keep up with an 80-degree day." -- Cars.com (2014)

Handling and Braking

According to auto writers, the front-wheel drive Fiat 500L isn't as nimble as rivals like the Mini Countryman, though reviewers note that it has a smooth ride. Some add that it has numb steering. A few critics find the 500L's brakes responsive, but others think they're too touchy.

  • "We're also not fond of the brake pedal, which can feel grabby and hard to modulate smoothly." -- Edmunds
  • "Standard on all 500L models are 12-inch rotors up front and 10.4-inch rotors in the rear, both with single-pistons. They actually do an excellent job of stopping the car. They're nice and grippy with a surprisingly strong pedal feel." -- Jalopnik (2014)
  • "The 500L's ride is taut without being harsh or overly stiff, although this is no canyon carver by any means. … The electric power steering is well weighted and doesn't feel over-boosted or artificial, although it's somewhat uncommunicative." -- Automobile Magazine (2014)
  • "On the curvy back roads of rural Maryland, the 500L felt light on its feet, but a little squishy. The Countryman we drove hugged the road better, but also crashed over bumps harder." -- AutoWeek (2014)
  • "The Fiat's modest body roll and vague steering give a clear handling edge to the Countryman. ... The car redeems itself on broken pavement, where the Countryman gets skittish over ruts and manhole covers despite having an independent rear suspension that, on paper, is more advanced than the 500L's torsion beam." -- Cars.com (2014)
Review Last Updated: 4/10/15

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